Hiring a nanny can be a daunting process and, for many, the idea of bringing someone new into their home and leaving their kids in the sole care of someone they don’t know can be scary. It’s very important to identify each step needed to carefully navigate this search, the end result of which yields comfort and peace of mind. Whether using an agency or not, this same 10 step process will help you gain a better understanding of how to approach hiring a professional and loving caregiver who is the right match for your family and your unique needs and expectations.
- Determine your needs: map out the criteria most important to you, from personality to special skills, hours and schedule, salary/package, age experience, education, training, childcare and discipline philosophy, responsibilities, etc.
- Write a job description: put your thoughts down on paper and spell them out in a one page summary that you can share with an agency and/or potential candidates. This will be the framework of your future employment agreement and a conversational piece for an interview.
- Register with an agency or post your job: turning over your search to a reputable and experienced agency will allow you to greatly minimize your time and effort in the remaining steps. However, if you are a do-it-yourselfer, you can write a short blurb with the key points in your job description and post it online or in the paper, but be prepared for a flood of unqualified applicants you may have to weed through in order to move on to the next step(s). If your needs are time sensitive or you are very busy, this may not be an option for you.
- Screen applicants/conduct phone interviews: make sure to screen for the most important criteria (hours, salary, age experience, responsibilities willing to perform, area of town) before moving on to any more detailed probing (an agency will already have done this for you). Above and beyond having the right experience on paper, you will want to have enough chemistry on the phone to warrant an in-person meeting. A good fit is a combination of both!
- In-person interview: arrange for promising candidates to come to your home to meet with you and get a preview of the potential future work environment. You may want to meet without the children in case it is not a good fit, or bring the kids in for part of the interview to observe the interaction. This initial meeting mainly serves to feel out compatibility (assuming the main needs will be able to be met by this person); a good candidate should interview you too!
- Trial time/working interview: observing someone while working will give you the best indicator of future performance. Trial time is typically 3-5 days for local non live-in candidates. Try to duplicate the duties, hours, etc. as closely as possible so that the candidate can experience the job as accurately as possible (ex. morning traffic patterns) before moving forward. This time should serve as reinforcement for your decision or bring up possible red flags to halt you from moving forward. A good agency will provide a guarantee period (typically 90 days) in which you can get a free replacement.
- Reference/background checks: when deciding between two great candidates, a reference check can be the tie breaker. An agency will already have checked references prior to sending you a profile. However, after you have interviewed with a certain candidate, you may have specific questions that are generated that a former employer can specifically address, above and beyond verifying simply whether or not they are qualified for the job. Background checks are essential for peace of mind and the security of your children. Individual families may not know how to conduct these checks themselves or where to go to obtain the most comprehensive and up-to-date information. An experienced agency can assist and can provide ongoing monitoring services as well.
- Job offer/employment agreement: an extensive written agreement is the key to a long-term relationship where expectations are clear and misunderstandings minimized. An agency may provide a template for you that addresses the most typical scenarios in question in a comprehensive way. The job offer should come in the form of this written proposal with an expectation for some negotiation back and forth to ultimately arrive at a clearly spelled out and mutually beneficial , agreed upon working arrangement. An agency can act as the middle man in cases where negotiating directly is uncomfortable or an awkward way to kick off the new relationship.
- Job begins: the employment agreement is signed and a start date is set!
- Post-hire relationship maintenance/job satisfaction: the greatest way to ensure success is to set up regularly scheduled one-on-ones to discuss the job and what is working well and what is not. Providing an open forum for communication and discussion of struggles, obstacles and accomplishments as well (recommended at least monthly) will ensure the long lasting satisfaction of both parties involved. Semi-annual reviews and annual opportunities for bonuses and raises will also demonstrate the perceived value of the performance and relationship.
Good luck in hiring a great nanny! We would love to assist you in this important process with our years of experience and expertise!